By Shannon Drayer
SAN DIEGO – Felix Hernandez was excited to pick up his bat today, although it is doubtful that manager Lloyd McClendon will let him swing away during tonight's interleague game against the Padres.
"As any American League manager, you fear your pitchers going to the plate because you don't want anything to happen," McClendon said. "Hopefully every situation is a sacrifice-bunt situation."
McClendon has not allowed Mariners pitchers to take batting practice on the field, something they did under previous managers. They have been allowed to take bunting practice but there have been no home-run derbies among pitchers like we have seen before.
"It's not going to help them," McClendon said of pitchers taking batting practice. "I've found this, and it is amazing with pitchers: they do better when they don't think about hitting, they just go in there and hack. And a lot of times they make it look easy!"
If the pitchers come up empty handed in their at-bats, that's just fine with McClendon.
"The risk is not worth the reward," he said. "They are going to hit two, maybe three times? To go out and do that makes no sense."
Endy Chavez, 9
James Jones, 8
Robinson Cano, 4
Kyle Seager, 5
Logan Morrison, 3
Mike Zunino, 2
Dustin Ackley, 7
Brad Miller, 6
Felix Hernandez, 1
• 1B Justin Smoak has started his Triple-A rehab assignment and is in the Rainiers' lineup tonight. Smoak is eligible to come off the disabled list June 25.
• OF Michael Saunders and DH Corey Hart are expected to start their rehab assignments soon. While they're not in the lineup tonight, I was told they might take batting practice with the Rainiers.
• RHP Hisashi Iwkauma threw a flat-ground session today and remains on schedule to pitch Friday in Kansas City despite the fact that he hasn't thrown a bullpen session this week. According to McClendon, he is not quite 100 percent but he is much better.
• Jim Callis of MLB.com reports that the Mariners and first-round pick Alex Jackson have agreed to terms. It is said to be a $4.2 million deal. Slot for the sixth pick was $3.57 million. Jackson is expected to be at Safeco Field Monday.
The Mariners maneuvered their top 10 picks to sign No. 2 pick Gareth Morgan to a $2 million deal. More on their draft strategy from general manager Jack Zduriencik can be heard on my latest podcast. The Mariners have signed or agreed to terms with all of their top 10 picks.